Narrow Primary Feather Rachises in Confuciusornis and Archaeopteryx Suggest Poor Flight Ability

@article{Nudds2010NarrowPF,
  title={Narrow Primary Feather Rachises in Confuciusornis and Archaeopteryx Suggest Poor Flight Ability},
  author={Robert L Nudds and Gareth J. Dyke},
  journal={Science},
  year={2010},
  volume={328},
  pages={887 - 889}
}
Poor Flight of the Ancients In order to fly, the feathers of birds must be strong enough to support the bird's weight without breaking or bending. The main part of a feather providing structural support is its central shaft, which stiffens the feather along its length. In modern birds, this is hollow to reduce weight. Nudds and Dyke (p. 887) show that the cross-section of the shaft of the Mesozoic birds Archaeopteryx and Confuciusornis was much smaller than that of modern birds. Calculations… Expand

Paper Mentions

The Feathers of the Jurassic Urvogel Archaeopteryx
TLDR
Feather morphology and arrangement in Archaeopteryx are consistent with lift-generating function, and the wing loading and aspect ratio are comparable to modern birds, consistent with gliding and perhaps flapping flight. Expand
Primitive Wing Feather Arrangement in Archaeopteryx lithographica and Anchiornis huxleyi
TLDR
The wings of the archaic bird Archaeopteryx lithographica and the dinosaur Anchiornis huxleyi are redescribed and it is shown that their wings differ from those of Neornithes in being composed of multiple layers of feathers. Expand
Palaeoecology, Aerodynamics, and the Origin of Avian Flight
TLDR
Six evolutionary stages of avian flight represented by phylogeny and transitional fossils—arboreal leaping, parachuting, biplane gliding, monoplane glider, undulating flight, and manoeuvring flapping flight are identified. Expand
From baby birds to feathered dinosaurs: incipient wings and the evolution of flight
TLDR
These findings provide a quantitative, biologically relevant bracket for theropod performance and suggest that protowings could have provided useful aerodynamic function early in maniraptoran history, with improvements in aerodynamic performance attending the evolution of larger wings, more effective feathers, and faster angular velocities. Expand
Reassessment of the Wing Feathers of Archaeopteryx lithographica Suggests No Robust Evidence for the Presence of Elongated Dorsal Wing Coverts
TLDR
The qualitative arguments forwarded in support of the elongated covert hypothesis are neither robust nor supported quantitatively, and it is premature to conclude unequivocally that the wing of Archaeopteryx consisted of primary feathers overlaid with elongated coverts. Expand
New specimen of Archaeopteryx provides insights into the evolution of pennaceous feathers
TLDR
An analysis of the phylogenetic distribution of pennaceous feathers on the tail, hindlimb and arms of advanced maniraptorans and basal avialans strongly indicates that these structures evolved in a functional context other than flight, most probably in relation to display, as suggested by some previous studies. Expand
Primary feather lengths may not be important for inferring the flight styles of Mesozoic birds
TLDR
It is shown that the diverse Mesozoic avian clade Enantiornithes overlaps substantially with extant taxa in both size and limb element proportions, confirming previous morphometric results based on skeletal elements alone. Expand
Flight, symmetry and barb angle evolution in the feathers of birds and other dinosaurs
TLDR
It is shown that extant taxa, including strong flyers (e.g. some songbirds), show convergence on trailing barb angles and barb angle asymmetry observed in Mesozoic taxa that were proposed not to be active fliers, challenging the notion that barb angle and barb angles ratios in extant birds directly inform the reconstruction of function in extinct stem taxa. Expand
Comment on “Narrow Primary Feather Rachises in Confuciusornis and Archaeopteryx Suggest Poor Flight Ability”
  • G. Paul
  • Biology, Medicine
  • Science
  • 2010
TLDR
The total biology of the birds indicates that they could achieve flapping flight and the authors overestimated the mass of the subjects and understated the strength of the primary shafts. Expand
Feathers Before Flight
TLDR
Fossil data indicate that feathers and their precursors may have evolved over a much longer span than previously thought, and that branched pinnate feathers of modern aspect predate the origin of active flight. Expand
...
1
2
3
4
5
...

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 20 REFERENCES
Flight capability and the pectoral girdle of Archaeopteryx
TLDR
It is hoped that the asymmetrical remiges of Archaeopteryx prove that the wing had an aerodynamic function, and it is shown that neither of the preceding points precludes a capacity for powered flight in Archaeoperyx. Expand
THE FLYING ABILITY OF ARCHAEOPTERYX
SUMMARY Estimates for the wing span, mass and wing area of Archaeopteryx lithographica are provided, and these are used to derive certain of the flight parameters. From the data available on theExpand
Archaeopteryx and the Origin of Flight
TLDR
The primordial insulative function of contour feathers and the predatory hypothesis for the enlargement of the remiges seem to account for the otherwise paradoxical presence in Archaeopteryx on essentially modern "flight" feathers. Expand
Life history of a basal bird: morphometrics of the Early Cretaceous Confuciusornis
TLDR
A multivariate morphometric study involving measurements of more than 100 skeletons of C. sanctus shows any correlation between size distribution and the presence or absence of blade-like rectrices (tail feathers), thus implying, that if these feathers are sexual characters, they are not correlated with sexual size dimorphism. Expand
The wing of Archaeopteryx as a primary thrust generator
TLDR
The calculations provide a solution to the ‘velocity gap’ problem and shed light on how a running Archaeopteryx (or its cursorial maniraptoriform ancestors) could have achieved the velocity necessary to become airborne by flapping feathered wings. Expand
Forelimb Posture in Dinosaurs and the Evolution of the Avian Flapping Flight-Stroke
  • R. Nudds, G. Dyke
  • Biology, Medicine
  • Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 2009
TLDR
Calculations indicated that even moderate wing movements are enough to generate rudimentary thrust and that a propulsive flapping flight-stroke could have evolved via gradual incremental changes in wing movement and wing morphology. Expand
The scaling of the size and stiffness of primary flight feathers
TLDR
The more flexible primary feathers of large birds may reduce stresses on the wing skeleton during take-off and landing and also make these feathers less susceptible to mechanical failure, and the greater flexibility of these feathers may also reduce their capacity to generate aerodynamic lift. Expand
The quality of the fossil record of Mesozoic birds
TLDR
A dataset comprising all known fossil taxa is presented, suggesting that the broad outlines of early avian evolution are consistently represented: no stage in the Mesozoic is characterized by an overabundance of scrappy fossils compared with more complete specimens. Expand
Functional osteology of the avian wrist and the evolution of flapping flight
The avian wrist is extraordinarily adapted for flight. Its intricate osteology is constructed to perform four very different, but extremely important, flight‐related functions. (1) Throughout theExpand
In vivo strains in pigeon flight feather shafts: implications for structural design
  • Corning, Biewener
  • Materials Science, Medicine
  • The Journal of experimental biology
  • 1998
TLDR
In vivo strain recordings demonstrated that feather shafts are most likely to fail through local buckling of their compact keratin cortex, and the most reasonable explanation appears to be that flexural stiffness is more critical than strength to feather shaft performance. Expand
...
1
2
...